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Oberkommando West Army Preview

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Welcome back Company of Heroes 2 fans! Our coverage of the new Western Front Armies here at COH2.org continues today with a preview of the new German army being added, the Oberkommando West (OKW). Relic Entertainment streamed a cast of an Alpha match which gave us our first look at the OKW, as well as mixed-army play. The OKW feature some new and exciting game play mechanics, and our preview today will focus on known units, unique veterancy of OKW units, and an in-depth look at the new teching structure for the OKW.

Disclaimer: This article was written with information released publicly by Relic Entertainment. All unit descriptions, images, and details were taken from the Relic twitch.tv broadcast. Direct quotes from the broadcast are featured in this article.

[twitch=relicentertainment]archive_id=536023767[/twitch]


Oberkommando West (OKW) Vision Statement


Not the army it once was at its peak, but it still dangerous. The Oberkommando should portray the character of the German army around the time of the Battle of the Bulge – technologically sophisticated and hardened – but challenged by its reliance on heavy weapons.
  • They fought on ground favoring the defenders, but still smashed 60 miles into the Allied lines.
  • Formations were reconstituted from Normandy and Ostfront divisions; they were battle hardened and newly equipped. Elite new units like the Obersoldaten are fearsome infantry squads and automatic weapons are featured on many squads.
  • Heavy armor was utilized extensively, but challenged by fuel. Resources are hard come by, and many units are heavy, powerful, and expensive.
  • Support was a significant issue – sustaining an attack was a challenge, and German forces had to forage, steal, capture supplies they needed.
  • This was an army dependent on striking deep and holding the shoulders of the salient they’ve seized. The OKW can create a bulwark of captured territory by utilizing their base buildings.
  • Air support was nearly non-existent, but AA support was plentiful. As a result, reconnaissance duties fall to technological advances like Infrared Projectors to spot enemy units.


Army Features


IR Halftrack
Scans an area to detect Heat signature in the FOW.

Super Tanks
Access to some of the biggest and baddest armor to ever do combat during WW2

MGs and Mortars

The Kubelwagen carries a machine gun capable of suppression, and the IG 18 Infantry Support Gun takes on the role of a mortar. It can fire indirect fire barrages much like a mortar can in the Soviet or Ostheer armies.


OKW Forces Infantry


Sturmpioneer Squad
"Sturmpioneers are tough combat troops whose primary tasks are creating or clearing battlefield obstacles and attacking enemy defensive positions. Can be upgraded to clear mines and cut wire."

The Sturmpioneer appear to be extremely deadly, and powerful. By observing the replay we can see that one Sturmpioneer squad takes up a whopping 9 popcap, far more than other faction engineer squads. In combat they can be seen to be very deadly.

!One of my favorite units actually. So they're actually armed with the MP44, so they're kind of like the Panzergrenadiers, but they have the added utility of repair, lay mines, they're actually a really strong unit overall.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


A commander ability titled "Heavy Fortifications" is listed with the Luftwaffe Ground Forces Doctrine which reads "Sturmpioneers construct Tank Traps, Flak Emplacements, and Trenches."
Relic has released more information about the Sturmpioneer at their community website.

Volksgrenadiers
"Volksgrenadiers are reformed from hardened veterans, recovering wounded, and new recruits. They are potent frontline infantry for the Oberkommando. Effective against infantry and long range. Cap be upgraded with anti-tank weapons"

The Volksgrenadier-squad consits of five man, and in the video displayed similarly to the Grenadiers of the Ostheer. In the video, a Volksgrenadier squad can be seen with the upgraded anti-tank weapon, which appears to be a single Panzershrek. OKW players can order this unit from their starting HQ.




Obersoldaten
"A veteran infantry squad equipped for long range combat with rifles and an MG34 Light Machine Gun. Effective against infantry at long range[/ color]"

!You can actually upgrade your Obersoldaten to equip infrared scoped MP44s [via commander ability].Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer




7.5cm le.IG 18 Infantry Support Gun
"The 7.5cm leichtes Infantereriegeschütz 18, or Light Infantry Gun, has reasonably high rate of fire and while it can provide plunging fire like a mortar, it can also fire a flat trajectory against nearby threats. A light mobile howitzer effective against static positions, infantry, and light vehicles."


The IG 18 is a new type of indirect fire unit for the OKW. It can be seen in the video barraging units with great effect. It appears to cost 480mp, which would infer greater strength than the 240mp mortars of the base game.

!That's the infantry support gun, it's kind of the OKW equivalent to the mortar.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


!I like it!Drew - Literally Just the IT Guy




The IG 18 also features a new type of mechanic introduced with the Western Front Armies which gives some indirect fire a greater ability to lob rounds over obstacles such as buildings.

!It's like a miniature howitzer meets mortar. The nice thing about it is we have a new angle to distance scatter kind of mechanic in the game, where you can actually lob things over objects. It's a really neat unit.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


Other Infantry
Several other infantry units are listed under commander abilities, but were not seen in game. The Luftwaffe Ground Forces Doctrine listed Fallschirmjäger and Mg34. The Breakthrough Doctrine listed a Sturm Offizier which can "improve nearby infantry and has a number of abilities to weaken the enemy." as well as Panzerfüsiliere which are "adept at recon and long range combat."


OKW Forces Vehicles


Kübelwagen
"The Kübelwagen fulfills are variety of roles as a light transport and reconnaissance vehicle. Fast and good at scouting. Low armor."


The Kübelwagen is also ordered from the starting HQ, and can be a very effective unit in capable hands. Observing the video closely, you can see the Kübelwagen has two "modes" it operates in. While moving and shortly after stopping, the unit acts like a regular light vehicle with a machine gun on top. After being stopped for a few seconds, the Kübelwagen is capable of suppressing infantry.



!That Kübelwagen is a suppression platform.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


!It suppresses?Drew - Literally Just the IT Guy


!When you see that little lightning bolt on it, that means magic's happening. Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer




An astute member on our COH2.ORG forums pointed out that when the Kübelwagen is ordered by the player, it has no fuel cost. This is in contrast to other light vehicles which uniformly cost fuel. We also get a glimpse of the Vet 1 bonus for the unit, which reads "gains detection, revealing nearby infantry units on the mini-map."

King Tiger
"The SdKfz 182 Tiger B, most commonly known as the ‘King Tiger’ improves on the already vaunted capabilities of the Tiger by adding a higher-velocity KwK 43 L/71 88mm gun and more effective sloped armor. Powerful, but slow. Effective against all targets. Weak to massed anti-tank weapons. "


The "King Tiger" is without a doubt one of the largest heavy tanks we have seen to date. Relic has released an extensive preview of the King Tiger at their community website.




OKW Tech Structure


Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations in the stream was the Tech Structure of the OKW. The Tech Structure for both factions is still under NDA, but close inspection of the video provides us with the information to create a rather in-depth look at the new mechanics. Early on in the stream we were cautioned about the fact that this is still in Alpha, and changes are likely still on the way.

!Just to keep in mind for players out there watching this cast, this is an alpha build. Things are still kind of in motion in terms of design and what not. So there might be some changes on release.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


Reminiscent of the British in Opposing Fronts, the OKW base buildings are deployed on captured map territory, and not in the base sector like other factions. The OKW also has a severely limited economy, gaining fewer resources than the other factions. Teching to new tiers with the OKW is accomplished by deploying a supply truck on captured territory.

sWS Supply Half-Track
"The sWS Supply Half-Track (schwerer Wehrmachts-Schlepper) can be positioned on captured territory in order to generate more resource income. Must be connected in a direct line to HQ territory, can be converted into a structure to build units."


When the game begins, an OKW supply truck is deployed after 15 seconds (from the video). This truck is then driven to captured territory, and provides a bonus to the resources provided by that territory. After a truck is deployed, a timer of 150 seconds can be seen to appear on the UI counting down the arrival of the next truck. This continues until the player has three trucks on the field.



! This is the equivalent of an OKW tech. These trucks can be converted into buildings that offer you a variety of functionalities.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer

This element is core to the gameplay of the OKW, which is balanced around having fewer resources when it comes to fuel and munitions. At one point in the video the OKW player is generating 19 fuel per minute, while the Ostheer player is receiving 36 fuel per minute. The munitions were also reduced by a similar ammount.

When a truck is deployed, it can provide powerful capabilities in addition to providing access to new units. The OKW player on the stream built each tier available, allowing us the opportunity to examine each structure more thoroughly.

Battlegroup Headquarters
"The Battlegroup Headquarters offers a versatile mix of support and strike units needed by the battlegroup to recon enemy positions, barrage light targets, and support infantry operations with armor. Orders in 7.5cm le.IG 18 Infantry Support Gun, Panzer II Luchs Light Tank, the 251/20 infrared half-track, Panther PzKpfw V Tank."


The best part about this structure?

!This truck turns into a huge gun.Drew - Literally Just the IT Guy


!So we have a flak building. A building that actually has a 37mm flak gun on top of it. Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer




Yes, that's right folks - the building has a 37mm flak cannon on top. In the video it can be seen inflicting a lot of damage against advancing troops. Shortly after, developer pqumsieh chooses to avoid fighting the gun and flank elsewhere. The gun seems powerful enough to be a strong deterrent against advancing infantry and light vehicles.

!That truck you saw earlier puts out a lot of pressure. Makes it very difficult.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


?Drew - Literally Just the IT Guy:So when the truck goes up with the big gun? You just ignore it?


!No, I just figure at this point I'm gonna double up on the guy on the other side.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


Just a short while later, we witness the Soviet and US Forces player assaulting the flak gun head on. The truck appears to be quite strong, but is still vulnerable to fire from things such as an AT gun or satchel charge. In this game, the Soviet player lobbed a satchel from over a building, inflicted heavy damage, and the US Forces player finished it off with an AT gun.



Mechanized Regiment Headquarters
"The Mechanized Regiment HQ supplies vehicles to counter any threat - infantry or armored - that the enemy can field. Powerful anti-infantry and anti-tank options add dimension to attack or defense. Orders in the SdKfz Heavy Armored Car, 251/17 Flak-Halftrack, SdKfz 252 'Walking Stuka' Rocket Half-Track, and Jadgpanzer IV/70.""


In addition to calling in a slew of vehicles to counter any threat, the Mechanized Regiment HQ serves as a forward healing and reinforcement post. It also appears to have a purchasable upgrade allowing forces to retreat to the HQ.

!We also have a retreat point. So you have a truck you put into a forward retreat point. It also reinforces and heals nearby units.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer



The capability of the Regiment HQ and the Battlegroup HQ provide players with several meaningful choices about their tech structure. Not only are players choosing to tech up for units, but they are also able to choose to deploy a potent forward base. Relic developer Peter Qumsieh shared some thoughts in the video regarding this element of game play.

!If you kind of look at some of the historical events a bit, we wanted to really highlight the fact that the Germans had to "Bulge" out. The reason [sectors are highlighted blue when a truck is on them] is we want to create the thematic "Bulge." When you push your trucks you push [your army] forward on the offensive.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer

The "Bulge" is a game play element enforced by the potency of these structures and their ability to be placed on captured territory. This is in clear alignment with the oft-mentioned Relic philosophy on Risk vs Reward. Do you place your Flak gun and forward HQ close to the lines and easy to protect, or forward towards the action?

!You don't always have to put your trucks in a forward position. There are benefits to it, but there are also risks. That's something we wanted to highlight, the risks. We didn't want to be in a situation where it was a no brainer. The player has to be mindful of that. The player can field the truck closer to their base.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer

It was mentioned in the video that a player cannot deploy two trucks on the same sector. This would mean that in order to, for example, protect a forward healing base with a flak gun, they would need to be deployed in two separate sectors that are nearby each other. While it is a powerful option, it was noted that two different players can both deploy on the same territory, creating team synergy.

!What we do in a team game is actually have trucks overlap. So I might put a flak halftrack down and my teammate might put down a healing half track. That allows us to have a reinforce point, heal point, and protect it.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


Schwerer Panzer Headquarters
"The Schwerer Panzer Heaquarters orders in the most powerful infantry and armored units - elite and heavy forces capable of smashing through enemy infantry, armored units, or concentrations of both. Orders in Obersoldaten, the 'King Tiger' Heavy Tank, and the Sturmtiger."


Unlike the other two tech structures, the Panzer HQ does not provide the same "Front line" bonus associated with the Flak gun and forward HQ. Although the mechanic is not fully explained, this structure is capable of converting munitions to fuel, and vice versa.



![This is a] resource conversion building. It fields some of our super heavies, like the King Tiger, and the SturmtigerPeter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer

It is also worth noting that when the half-track deploys into a structure, it does have a "build time" associated with it. When a building is being constructed it is extremely vulnerable to small arms fire. This would make it risky to deploy a structure in the heat of battle.

!It's super vulnerable while it's converting. So if I were to shoot it, I would actually be able to deal damage to it.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer

Players who are too aggressive with their structures may regret losing them. Keep in mind that the trucks are free, but deploying them into a half track has a manpower and fuel cost associated with it. What happens when one dies?

!They keep coming. You can never get rid of them forever. Losing them does have an impact on your economy. If you spent money to convert the truck into the halftrack, and then you lose, that is now money you won't have.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


On the differences between OKW and COH1 British Army

?Drew - Literally Just the IT Guy:This feels so British, with the buildings, the forward aggression, and the static defense.


!It does kinda have some aspects, in the opposing fronts we did have the British, but there are some key differences. We can't redeploy these trucks. You're making more of a conscious decision about how you place them, and what the strategy and tactics you're trying to employ. Generally speaking they're going to have a different impact on the economy.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


OKW Unit Veterancy

!One of the unique aspects of the OKW is they get five levels of veterancy. Standard units only get three, they get five. They're so elite, we had to give them two extra levels. Really kind of highlights some of that elite status.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer


!If the OKW player is able to preserve their unit to mid-late game, it's really a challenge to take out some of his Vet 4 or 5 units.Peter "pqumsieh" Qumsieh - Relic Balance Designer




Thank you for reading the COH2.ORG preview of the new Oberkommando West being released in the Western Front Armies standalone expansion for Company of Heroes 2. We are pretty darn excited, and we hope you are too! Stay tuned for more information!
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